With the Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 hit “Summer in the City” bopping in my head and leaping from my lips, we plunged into travel, parties and boat projects large and small these the past two weeks. We had many moments of monumental sweats, but that did not deter us. Saner people would have sat back, downed a few beers and looked at us as if we were those mad dogs or Englishmen who, as was often said, go out in the noon day sun.
It began with a reconnaissance trip to St. Petersburg, Florida, led my our local guide, all around St. Pete enthusiast and good friend, Justine. The purpose was clear. Could we enjoy St. Pete as a place to live in July as we could as we discovered on our first visit last March?
With Justine at the wheel of a silver, roaring turbo charged Mustang GT convertible (it was such a good deal we had to rent it), the wind whipped my hair and the sun scorched my face as we flew down the expressway from Tampa Bay airport to our Airbnb condo that was perfectly situated less than 10 minutes each way to St. Pete Beach and St. Pete proper. We dove into the local scene — sipped cooling drinks, ate grouper sandwiches and lobster risotto, shopped and lunched at the overflowing Mazarro’s Italian Market, took in bit of night life, walked the fishing pier at the DeSoto State Park, hiked the Gulf’s edge at St. Pete Beach, then drank Mohitos with breakfast , toured several high-rise buildings with grand views of Tampa Bay, and finally spent a lazy few hours sitting by the water of Tampa Bay in the city park. Despite the heat and the sweat, St. Pete is still at the top of our list of possible homes bases, since we’ll have the option to live on the boat right in the heart of the city. I want so to wake up every morning to see water between my toes.
It was back on the boat for a few days for a little projects, like installing the lee cloth, which is a piece of canvas strung up over a couch in the salon, the living room in the middle of the boat where the wave action is least, to keep you from falling out while you sleep when the boat is sailing at an angle (heel). It’s these little touches that make sailing long distances a bit more pleasant than just surviving.
Then on Sunday, it was party time — our granddaughter turned six and her Pop-Pop was handsome as could be in his new Tommy Bahama “Florida” shirt. Now, if I could just get him to stop wearing socks in the summer with his boat shoes, he would be perfectly stunning. His daughter told me with a huge sigh that it probably was not going to happen because his sock habit came from walking the mail so many years when he was young USPS mailman.
On Tuesday morning, in the height of the heat, Dolce Vento was hauled out once again, given a power wash on her underside and then placed in the yard on jack stands (know as being “on the hard”. This time for a bow thruster replacement. Replacing your bow thruster is like replacing your car’s power steering. It isn’t easy and requires many contortions to reach the crannies and crevices at the pointy end of the boat. And, without a good one, turning and parking, especially in windy conditions or close quarters, can be a truly “no fun” situation that may end up smashing the dock and the boat.
A team of three experts, East Coast Bowthrusters, drove down from upstate New York in their mobile “shop” and went to work in the heat. Boy, did they sweat, but in just four hours the job was done and they were off to other customers in the area. Dolce Vento was back in the water Thursday right after lunch.
For the two days we were out of the water, we stayed with friends, Don & Jerriann. The highlight of our visit was eating a traditional Chesapeake Bay dinner one night — crabs steamed in piles of “Old Bay” seasoning, boiled corn and cold beer — with newspaper on the table and mallets and knives in our hands. Now, you can’t eat this meal inside. It’s just too messy, so we sweat on the porch while shells flew, the corn was chewed and the beer swallowed — the heat would not give up even in the evening — but it was worth it.
Now if the heat will let up soon, I can get out to scrub the deck to rid us of the bird poop that accumulated in only two days “on the hard”.